By Jordan Peterson|@movieminreviews
2017 was indisputably a fantastic year for film fans. The range of diversity and high level of excellence achieved in damn near every categorization of the medium across all twelve months was staggering. The downside to such a high quantity of fantastic films (if such a thing exists) is that it’s difficult to whittle down a top ten list.
Regardless of how it pains me, the show must go on. Here are the top ten films of 2017 you should totally check out if you haven’t already:
10.) John Wick: Chapter 2
John Wick: Chapter Two is more of the same in all the right ways. More brutal fight choreography, more hyper-stylized shootouts, and more world-building intrigue, all slickly coated over with a fine sheen of self-awareness. For pure enjoyment, I’d confidentially put up Keanu Reeves’ second outing as the titular un- retired assassin against any of the year’s Oscar contenders.
9.) A Ghost Story
David Lowery’s low budget supernatural fantasy is—forgive the pun— a haunting little film brimming with big ideas and imagination that works to grip viewers through intimate, minimalistic storytelling. It’s sad but surprisingly sweet and occasionally funny. Not a single frame feels disingenuous and it never insults its audience with unnecessary exposition regurgitation. A Ghost Story is an immaculate representation of cinema as art.
8.) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Irish playwright Martin McDonagh has twice before made the transition to filmmaking (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths) and twice he’s knocked it out of the park. It took three billboards to get the attention of Ebbing, Missouri police and whether or not that’s a subtle nod from McDonagh to the Academy, his third film is arguably his best to date. It’s an intricate, emotionally mature character study draped in timely social themes as well as an intelligent dark comedy. With three of its lead performers nominated for Oscars, it’s also one of the best acted films of 2017.
7.) Molly’s Game
Jessica Chastain was truly snubbed of a Best Actress Oscar nod for this one (move over, Meryl). She is nothing short of magnetizing as real-life Poker runner Molly Bloom in this adaptation of Bloom’s memoir of the same name. That said, the biggest deal here is Oscar-winning writer-turned-director Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball), who, with his directorial debut, has crafted a smart and sophisticated legal thriller on par with any of his previous films helmed by auteurs like David Fincher or Danny Boyle.
6.) Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza is a revelation in this fascinating dark comedy as a broken individual who’s tragically and obsessively chasing the nonexistent idyllic lifestyles she sees online (I am of the opinion Plaza deserves the Oscar nod over Saoirse Ronan this year). Ingrid Goes West admiringly explores the complex nuances of the human psyche as it pertains to self-perception, relationships, technology and happiness without making light of mental illness or pointing the finger. In addition, each character is believably fleshed out with distinguishable personality quirks. Like Ingrid, most of them are awful people. Fortunately, on the shoulders of strong writing and involved performances, micro-sympathies keep you heavily invested in each of them.
5.) Get Out
Get Out made waves when it first hit theaters late last February. Critics praised first-time writer-director Jordan Peele for seamlessly and intelligently blending horror with social satire. Audiences too connected with the film and ultimately led it to a number of box office records. Nearly a full calendar year later and Get Out has scooped up an impressive four Academy Award nominations in each of the top categories (acting, directing, writing, best picture). To that end, there’s not a lot to say about the film that hasn’t already been said. Sometimes quality just speaks for itself.
4.) The Florida Project
Quality sometimes speaks for itself, yes, but sometimes it must be spoken up for. Such is the case with Sean Baker’s excellent sophomore project The Florida Project. While Willem Dafoe was nominated for his work as a father-like hotel manager, such recognition hardly represents this film’s accomplishments in virtually all facets of the medium. In addition to Dafoe, The Florida Project boasts one of the year’s strongest on screen assembles, including seven-year-old Brooklynn Prince who astonishes in the role of a tough, rebellious child growing up in shoddy shadows of Disney World. Narratively we’re given access to a specific lifestyle rarely seen on film as well as a despairingly authentic series of events which are poetically and devastatingly seized inside some of the prettiest images of any movie of 2017.
3.) Good Time
Receiving absolutely no love from the Academy and grossing just over two-million dollars worldwide, Good Time may be the best film of 2017 that nobody’s heard of. Robert Pattinson gives a hypnotic, career-best performance as a scum of the Earth low life who gets his handicap brother locked away following a botched bank heist. The duration of the film follows this slimy con man as he lies and cheats his way through the neon-lit criminal underbelly of New York in order to rescue his brother from the system, ultimately ruining the lives of each unfortunate soul he crosses paths with. The end product is equatable to a gorgeously shot train wreck that’s impossible to turn away from.
2.) I, Tonya
I, Tonya is more than a biopic. It’s the cinematic embodiment of rock n’ roll (and not just because it features a mostly kickass 70s rock soundtrack). With only so much time on his hands, director Craig Gillespie plays fast and loose with an already outrageous series of real-life events centered around Olympic skater Tonya Harding and her possible (likely) involvement in the bashing of a fellow skater’s kneecap back in 1994. Whenever possible, Gillespie cuts the fat and cranks the dramatic tension past ten to maximize the grandiosity of his cast’s dynamite performances. And just like rock n roll, this film only takes itself as serious as it needs to and mostly in those intimate character moments which emotionally anchor the story. After the show, you may find yourself jonsein’ for an encore.
It’s all come down to this: an X-Men movie (sorta) is the best movie in what was a historically great year for movies (that’s just the world we live in now, embrace it). After its early March release, I spent the remainder of 2017 eagerly waiting for a “proper” film to come along and dethrone (declaw?) Logan as my favorite film of the year. To my amazement and simultaneous joy (I knew the film would be tough to top and secretly hoped against hope), no film delivered the emotional gut punch Logan did. Admittedly, nostalgia was a huge factor. After all, I’ve been rooting for these specific iterations of these characters since I was seven and seeing their arcs come to a tragically poetic end after seventeen years adds something unspeakably special. Still, Logan is great because of what it accomplishes outside of such skewed parameters. Arguably career-best performances from both Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier, both aged and struggling to find their place in a world now without mutants. Newcomer Dafne Keen impressively holds her own as Wolverine’s de facto daughter. Director James Mangold also weaves in a number of timeless themes as well as a few cathartically gory action sequences. Now nominated for a writing Oscar, Logan is proof of concept that a superhero movie can be a “proper” movie.
So there you have it, my top ten films of 2017. If you haven’t seen any of these films, do yourself a favor and check em out. You’ll be happy you did (probably)! Anyways, what do y’all think and what does your ranking look like? I want to hear from you so feel free to leave me your 2017 favorite films in the comments below!